Collagen Supplements: Does the Hype Match the Hope?
Collagen is a crucial protein in the body as it forms the major structural component of connective tissues. Many body parts including the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments are made up of these connective tissues. Findings from major studies done on Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, show that it specially plays a vital role in keeping the skin healthy and youthful.
The collagen family
As mentioned above, collagen is present in the body in abundance. Collagens are either secreted by fibroblasts in connective tissues or epithelial tissues all over the body. The main role of these compounds despite their source is organizing and shaping tissues. The distribution of collagen is restricted to some tissues such as the skin and hence the biological function this compound performs is distinct in each cell.
Out of the 16 kinds of collagen available, collagen I, II, III types are the most abundant in the human body.
Type I – This collagen is made up of densely packed fibers and form the better portion of collagen in the body. The organic part of the bone is made up of this collagen variety. This protein is also found in the skin, tendons and the connective tissues.
Type II – Unlike type I, type II collagen is made up of loosely packed fibers of amino acids. This type of collagen forms the main part of the cartilage and the joints.
Type III – Mainly found alongside type I collagen, this variety forms the main component of the reticulate. It hence provides support to major organs and muscles.
Other kinds of collagen fibers like type IV and V can also be found in the body but in very small quantities. Luckily, almost all kinds of collagen have excellent biocompatibility and biodegradability.
Collagen production and supply
Since collagen is a protein, it can only be synthesized naturally by the body if you consume protein-rich foods. Collagen is a long chain framework made by combining amino acids units together. The process of collagen synthesis also requires other elements such as vitamin C and minerals such as zinc and copper. Collagen production and supply in the body is at its peak in age below 20 years. Maintaining a young skin at this age bracket is hassle free since the increased collagen supply keeps the skin elastic and healthy. Collagen production decreases as people get older making it demanding to maintain a young skin. Other than old age, collagen production can also decrease due to the following:
- Too much sunlight– Ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates deep in to the skin and causes a rapid increase in collagen breakdown to free radicals. If you spend most of your time in scorching conditions, your collagen level is likely to go down faster.
- Some lifestyle habits– Collagen loss and premature aging can also result from certain lifestyle habits. Consuming tobacco and a lot of sugars, for example can lead to destruction of collagen. Poor diet is also a lifestyle habit that causes rapid reduction of collagen in the body. If the nutrients mentioned earlier such as zinc and copper are not present in your diet, you may suffer from swift collagen loss.
Wrinkled, sagged and crepey skin is the main indication of reduced collagen production. Although the skin is highly affected by collagen reduction, other body parts that require this structural component are also negatively impacted. For example, some conditions such as pain in the joints, stiffened ligament and tendons may be as a result of reduced collagen supply in the body.
With these reasonably unavoidable factors, adjustments must be done in the body to keep collagen production in the required level. While changing lifestyle habits and especially changing diet is the safest way to add more collagen in the body naturally, collagen supplement are a still a popular option for many people. Regardless of the hype collagen supplements get, it is worth appreciating that very little research has been done to prove and back their effectiveness.
What are Collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements are beauty add-ons sold to people who want to maintain a young skin for an extended period. Collagen supplements are sourced from animals and occur mainly in hydrolyzed, gelatin and raw forms. FDA categorizes supplements as food rather than drugs and only few promising studies show how supplements including for collagen impact the body.
The topic of collagen supplements and skin care has many unanswered questions. Is it possible to stop collagen loss with collagen supplements? Have medical specialist made it clear on how to increase collagen in the skin with collagen supplements? Do the different formulations of collagen supplements really work? This guide will show you whether collagen supplements are really worth the hype particularly in skin care.
Why eating collagen capsules/ tablets can’t really help
Some research backed studies have shown that eating collagen supplements is unlikely to help in maintaining a young skin. Here are some reasons that health specialist give:
- Digestion interferes with the process– The long term effects of collagen supplements may not be achieved as the stomach acid may breakdown the collagen structure into individual amino acids before it is delivered into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the body recognizes what is absorbed and not what is ingested.
- Collagen supplements are not organ specific– Consuming collagen capsules or tablets does not necessarily mean that they will go directly into the skin. This non-specificity factor reduces the effectiveness of collagen supplements.
- Limited research– As said above, the topic of collagen supplements lacks rigorous scientific study considered that they are regarded as food. Lack of enough data has led to many inconclusive reports to indicating whether collagen supplements reverse collagen loss.
- Some have side effects– Allergic reactions are also a major turn off for people looking forward to use collagen supplements. People allergic to protein rich foods should avoid collagen supplements at all costs.
- Collagen capsules or tablets are not well regulated– Unlike drugs that have to follow a specific discovery and manufacturing process, collagen supplements have no specific standards. This is why you will find a lot of these collagen tablets in the market made with all sorts of materials including animal scales and skin. Sadly, some of these materials may be loaded with undesirable amounts of heavy metals that may do more harm than good to our body.
With all this said, is it still possible to boost collagen supply in the body without having to consume these hyped oral supplements? Is changing the lifestyle habits discussed above good enough to get the collagen production and its optimum level? Let’s find out.
How to support collagen production in the skin to keep youthful look?
Building a solid network of proteins in the body is not an easy task however simple it sounds in writing. It is therefore worth noting that protecting the existing collagen is the surest way to maintain a youthful look. However, to support collagen production in the skin, you should do the following:
- Practice these skin care habits – The production of collagen can only occur in a skin that is treated properly. You should wash your skin daily, hydrate it and wear a broad spectrum sunscreen anytime there is hot sun.
- Massage your skin regularly – These body to mind touches have been observed to encourage collagen production in the skin. With a daily facial massage for example, your skin will always stay bright and youthful due to collagen production and activity enhancement.
- Get enough sleep – For your skin to produce adequate collage for a refreshed and youthful look, you should sleep for at least 7 hours. Enough sleep also reduces stress build up, a collagen production inhibitor.
- Drink lots of water – Since collagen also helps keep your skin moist for a perfect youthful look, sufficiently hydrating your body enhances this collagen property. For a more specific hydration regime, you can purchase a moisturizer for your skin.
- Exfoliate your skin – To ensure that all the external elements supporting the production of collagen infuse in the skin easily, you should consider removing the dry and dead skin by exfoliation. For this, you may use variety of products such as natural, home made or a commercial skin mask or skin scrub.
Dietary supplements or diets to make sure my body can create enough collagen
Foods are superior to supplements because they have bioavailable forms of collagen that can be easily absorbed by the body. It is also safer to consider dietary supplements as they are strictly regulated. Foods packed with proteins, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins are good collagen boosters. Eating collagen loaded foods should be prioritized over taking collagen supplements as it brings to the body not only collagen but also other essential elements.
Antioxidants in Berries
Consuming proteins and vitamin C provide the body with essential amino acids required for synthesis of collagen. Antioxidants protect your skin from free radicals by reducing oxidation process. Zinc is an activator of amino acids essential in collagen production while copper is a collagen binder and repairer.
You can get these specific elements crucial in collagen formation from the following foods:
- Protein– Beef, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, pork, dairy products and chicken.
- Vitamin C– Greens, citrus fruits, berries, broccoli and tomatoes.
- Zinc and Copper– Whole grains, fish and meat in general.
- Antioxidants– Fruits and vegetables.
The perfect dietary supplement: bone broth. Have you ever tried to make organic bone broth at home? Did you know that this brew is loaded with a good amount of collagen? Simmering bones in water for at least one day draws collagen that you can absorb by drinking. The bone broth also provides some nutrients required for collagen production. If you want to make your bone broth at home, always make sure that you buy your bones from a reputable butcher. This is the only way to make sure that you get quality nutrients.
Effects of silicon on collagen
As collagen is the most abundant substance in the biosphere, silicon is also the most abundant in the earth’s surface. Integrating these two substances has shown great potential in the biomedical field. Silicon is a trace element that helps form amino acids that in turn form collagen. Silicon also binds very easily with proteins. Due to this, silicon binds strongly with existing collagen in the body and helps rebuild it.
Surprisingly, doctors have discovered that many people lack enough silicon in their bodies. This is mainly due to lack of silicon rich foods in the modern diets. Although it is not straightforward to quantify the amount of silicon as it is for collagen, it is clear that people no longer consume the traditional high collagen laden foods such as horseradish and artichoke.
The synergistic effect
Although silicon boosts the production of collagen, these two substances also work hand in hand to prevent premature aging. Silicon in conjunction with collagen also gives the body architectural strength by supporting connective tissue health. Silicon enhances the production of elastin, a similar compound to collagen that gives skin elasticity and maintains a young skin.
Silica, a chemical oxide of silicon, is also an essential component of collagen creation. Since silicon is hard to find in its pure form, silica is the most common and available form. Presence of silica in the body helps form collagen with superior ant wrinkle and anti aging properties.
The bottom line
The hype given to many beauty supplements in most cases is not worth the hope. The main reason why beauty adjuncts such as collagen supplements never live up to their promises is lack of enough studies and regulations to improve their quality and working efficiency. If you are looking forward to maintain a young skin, by maintaining optimum levels of collagen in the body, eating the correct dietary supplements and changing some lifestyle behaviors is good enough for you.
Whether there is hope or not in collagen supplements, it will most likely not be the most reliable route to better skin even in the future. Unless the proliferating number of unscrupulous supplement’s vendors is dealt with, the market will still flood with these non- substantiated beauty add-ons. If you still feel that dietary supplements are more of a hustle for you, you are better off using your broad range sunscreen!